Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The American President who was paralysed . A true story !
In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island , New Brunswick , Roosevelt contracted an
illness believed by his physicians to be polio, which resulted in his total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. For the rest of his life, Roosevelt refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy , and, in 1926, he purchased a resort at Warm Springs , Georgia , where he founded a hydrotherapy center for the treatment of polio patients which still operates as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation . After he became President, he helped to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes ). His leadership in this organization is one reason he is commemorated on the dime .
At the time, Roosevelt was able to convince many people that he was getting better, which he believed was essential if he was to run for public office again. Fitting his hips and legs with iron braces, he laboriously taught himself to walk a short distance by swiveling his torso while supporting himself with a cane. In private, he used a wheelchair, but he was careful never to be seen in it in public. He usually appeared in public standing upright, supported on one side by an aide or one of his sons. FDR used a car with specially designed hand controls, which further gave him the illusion of mobility.
In 2003, a retrospective study proposed that it was more likely that Roosevelt's paralytic illness was Guillain-Barre syndrome , not poliomyelitis. However, since Roosevelt's cerebrospinal fluid was not examined, the cause may never be known for certain.